Matt Garza continues to improve his trade value

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Matt Garza was limited to two starts after the All-Star break last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow and a lat strain kept him from making his season debut this year until May 21, but he’s heating up at the right time for the rebuilding Cubs.

Garza struck out 10 batters over seven innings of one-run ball in a 7-2 win over the Brewers this afternoon at Miller Park. He has allowed just two runs in 22 innings over his last three starts and now owns a solid 3.83 ERA and 47/15 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings through eight starts this season.

Garza, 29, is making $10.25 million this season and will hit the free agent market this winter. Save for the possibility that the Phillies listen to offers for left-hander Cliff Lee, he could be the top starting pitcher available leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Report: Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.